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Saxophones :: Instruments :: Information
Care & Maintenance

Regular maintenance is important, a little time and effort will certainly pay off and should avoid problems which could result in a costly repair bill. However, beware of attempting any repair, however small, yourself. If in doubt, consult a qualified instrument repairer for advice.

♪ Never grasp the mechanism when assembling a saxophone, always hold by the bell where there are no keys. One of the most common faults we see are bent keys almost invariably caused by rough handling. Take care when attaching the crook to the body as the octave mechanism can be bent which can result in a costly repair.

♪ The cork on the crook needs an application of cork grease. It will prevent the cork from drying and disintegrating and eases putting the mouthpiece on and provides a good seal. A new cork joint will require greasing for the first few uses - thereafter at least twice a month or more if the crook seem tight. Do not apply too much in one application - always wipe away the excess with a cloth and avoid getting it over the rest of the instrument, especially on the pads.

♪ Ensure that the inside of the saxophone is dried every time it has been played using a pull through or a pad saver. Cleaning the inside after every time you play will lengthen the life of your pads. When you play, the moisture in your breath condenses on the inside of the body. Pads suck up the water like sponges. If you don’t do anything about it they will get hard and brittle , just like a pair of soaking wet leather shoes that have been put in front of a fireplace. Besides being noisy, sooner or later hard and brittle pads will start leaking. Pad savers are also available for the crook and the bell.

♪ Always remove your reed after playing and store it in your reed case. Wash your mouthpiece in warm soapy water at least once a week. Do not use hot water as this can discolour your mouthpiece.

♪ Wipe all fingerprints from the outside of your saxophone using a soft, dry cloth or a lacquer cloth/silver cleaning cloth that is impregnated with both a polish and an anti-tarnish agent. Care should be taken to avoid damaging the mechanisms and catching the springs.

♪ NEVER use any other kind of metal polish on your saxophone, as this could result in the silver plating or lacquer being stripped, as well as attracting dirt and grit which will damage the mechanism. DO NOT use liquid silver polish or Brasso as it is messy and can very easily lead to problems with your saxophone.

♪ Do not be tempted to use any kind of lubricant on the crook tenon should it become tight. This will attract dirt and grit which will ultimately worsen the problem. Keep the tenon clean with a little white spirit, this will help it go in smoothly, also wipe the tenon clean inside and out after playing. If your tenon becomes very stiff and tight, take it to a qualified repair and they will re-fit it for you.

♪ NEVER put your saxophone in water! Doing so would result in costly repair.

♪ Pads can stick, especially the pads that are closed when at rest, G# for example. There is very little that you can do about sticky pads without causing some kind of damage to them. Try to prevent the problem by not eating sweets or sugary drinks before you play. Also try using a pad saver, which hopefully will soak up any excess moisture instead of it soaking into your pads.

♪ Always replace the end plug as it protects the octave key rod that protrudes from the top of the body.

♪ Do not keep music or anything else in the case unless there is a separate compartment specifically for this as there is a risk of bending keywork when the case is being closed

♪ If you play regularly you can leave your saxophone on a sax stand. This will not cause any damage to the instrument. However, make sure it is kept somewhere safe and on a solid surface.

♪ Remember that the adjustment of the key mechanism and changing of pads is a very skilled job and should only be taken on by a qualified repairer. Try to have your instrument checked over by a repairer at least once a year to ensure that any little problems are sorted out before they get worse.

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© Windband 2012. Last revised 12 January 2013. Web site by TSP